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Modi govt brings an ordinance to end violence against health workers, upto 7 years imprisonment for attackers

Earlier, Indian Medical Association members had demanded a special central law against violence on doctors, nurses, health care workers and hospitals by an ordinance, and implement it on a priority basis.

In a significant measure to stop the attacks against the healthcare workers in the country, Modi Government has brought an ordinance to end violence against health workers.

Amidst the ongoing assaults on the frontline health workers, policemen during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, the central government has brought in a timely ordinance to deter the unruly mob. The new ordinance has provisions to punish the assaulters with imprisonment from 6 months to 7 years.

“Health workers who are trying to save the country from this epidemic are unfortunately facing attacks. No incident of violence or harassment, against them will be tolerated,” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said while briefing the media. He further added that an amendment will be brought to Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 making such a crime cognizable and non-bailable. The investigation will be done within 30 days and accused could face jail term from 3 months to 5 years with a penalty of Rs 50,000 which could go up to Rs 2 lakh.

Union Minister Javadekar further added that the daily health briefings will be now shifted to four days a week. Press releases and cabinet briefings will be on alternate days.

Demand for a special law from IMA

Earlier, Indian Medical Association members had demanded a special central law against violence on doctors, nurses, health care workers and hospitals by an ordinance, and implement it on a priority basis.

Last week, the Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS had also written a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah urging the government to implement the ‘Health Services Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to Property), Bill’ amidst the ongoing attacks on doctors by unruly patients.

Even some states like Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala had brought in such laws to protect healthcare workers from mob attacks. An ordinance has been brought in and shall be implemented after receiving the President’s sanction.

Violence against healthcare workers, policemen

At a time when frontline workers are risking their lives to limit the spread of the Chinese pandemic, there have been concerted attacks against them by many mobs, many of who refuse to cooperate in the treatment. There have been reports of Tablighi Jamaat members molesting nurses in UP, defecating in corridors in Delhi and even spitting at the healthcare workers. The Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi’s Nizamuddin has emerged as a hot spot contributing to approximately 30% of coronavirus cases in India.

From attacking medical teams, policemen who were searching for Tablighi members who had attended the religious congregation to check them for possible infection, to spiting on doctors at isolation centres, to roaming naked in their ward and making lewd gestures for female staff, the some unruly patients have been displaying extreme crassness.

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